All of the Native Tribes in California seem to support iPoker regulation, but most have sided with one faction or another on the issue of how it should be done, and who should be allowed to participate. Up until now, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Tribe has kept quiet on the issue. Now the tribe’s Chairman, Dave Vialpando, is speaking out, throwing his support fully behind all-inclusive iPoker regulation in California.
Vialpando said that the current legislative status towards online poker has been “counterproductive to consumer demand”, and that the state needs to stop dragging its feet on the matter. The Santa Ysabel Chairman believes that the only thing holding up legalization is that potential operators and lawmakers are too concerned with benefiting their own constituents.
“Too many potential entrants to this market, including the state, are too busy trying to guide the structure of legislation to maximize the benefit to the constituency they represent, often to the exclusion or detriment of others, rather than concentrating on crafting a framework which best serves the needs of the gaming public,” said Vialpando.
There are several groups lobbying for iPoker regulation in the Golden State, but Vialpando says they all have their own agendas, and that’s why no bill has made it to vote in the last 7 years.
Three Major Groups support Variable iPoker Regulation
The Pechanga Coalition, consisting of 7 major tribes, wants to exclude horse race tracks and so-called ‘bad actors’ (i.e. PokerStars) from entering the market.
The PokerStars Coalition, made up of PokerStars, two tribes and the state’s three largest commercial card rooms, wants to make sure PokerStars is allowed to participate(since they’ve all signed a partnership agreement already).
Horse race tracks want to get a piece of the action, and believe they have every right to do so, despite laws that prohibit pari-mutuel facilities from operating land-based poker or casino games. Note that PokerStars Coalition is fine with that plan, so long as no bad actors / tainted assets clause is present.
“All of the relevant stakeholders need to concentrate on the areas of common ground,” explained Vialpando. He said they all must “recognize that there will be plenty of business advantage to go around, rely on proven experienced experts in the industry to help craft a well-regulated (not over-regulated) industry which will benefit everyone.”
In essence, the Santa Ysabel support iPoker regulation that will allow all parties (tribes, commercial card rooms, horse tracks and PokerStars) to participate. Although Vialpando didn’t name a specific bill, Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 would be the clear candidate.
Change of Pace for Santa Ysabel
It’s interesting that the Santa Ysabel is speaking out on the issue of iPoker regulation now. Since mid-2014, the tribe’s sole focus was defying the laws of California by threatening to go ahead with the launch of their own regulated online poker room, PrivateTable.com. The tribe feels that they have the sovereign right under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) to launch iPoker without the state’s consent.
The Iipay Nation tested the waters by launching an online bingo site, DesertRoseBingo.com, last year, but as expected, California reacted quickly and harshly. The state succeeded in filing a federal injunction to shut down the gaming site temporarily until the matter could be further investigated.
Santa Ysabel countered with by filing a motion to dismiss, saying the state’s aversion to tribal-regulated iGaming and subsequent legal action against it is nothing more than “a thinly veiled attempt to weaken tribal governments as the State prepares to negotiate compacts with many of the California Tribes.”
Vialpando said that, despite the tribe’s desire to pave its own road towards iPoker regulation, “I fully support legal, well-regulated online gaming in California”. That support only goes so far though. He says the Iipay Nation will only back a bill “as long as all potential entrants are afforded the opportunity to enter the market and artificial legislative barriers which serve no other purpose than exclusion to limit competition are kept out of the legislation”.